Saturday, April 14, 2012



Wall-relief of Surya on the western wall.
NB - Horses of other two statues of Surya ( much smaller !) 
are not visible because of the way ASI has placed the same.

The statues and wall-reliefs of Konark's Sun temple made of chlorite stone  are famous - but it is not easy to find a lot about the material  in the Internet. For example:
In India, how many temples used this stone ? Again, Internet is not very clear about the details. I found that  the temples in Khiching,Orissa and Halebid , Karnataka have statues made of chlorite stone. I have to get more details about Halebid temple. One point is clear from what we found at Konark - this stone  did deliver the sculptors  very satisfying  and fine finish , which lasted the eroding impact of local environment that caused tremendous damage to other wall-reliefs  and statues made of khondalite stone.

 View of  chlorite statues on the Jagomahana on the northern wall.

 At Konark temple, all the statues and wall-reliefs  in Chlorite stone do not adorn the temple any more. Several statues are in National Museum, New Delhi. Yet others - wall-reliefs par excellence -  are housed in the neighbouring museum. What a visitor can find here are :
  1. Three huge  statues of Surya mounted on the remaining portion of the 'deul' as wall-reliefs !
  2. A huge door-frame to the now-inaccessible Jagomohana.
  3. A pair of  four-headed Vairava  in dance posture at a height on four sides of Jagomohana.
  4. Three/four musicians at the same level these statues of Vairava on four sides of Jagomohana.
  5. Yet  four musicians at a level higher than these statues of Vairava on four sides of Jagomohana.

 Top - Two Vairava made of chlorite stone on the eastern wall. 
Below - A bigger view of  LH side Martanda Vairava.

 A serious visitor will definitely pay a visit to the local museum to savour a beautiful collection from the ruins of  this temple . S/he can have glimpse of photos of what all have been shifted away to New Delhi. This way, a good number of 'beauties' are lost to the visitor of this temple - but, those on the higher elevation should not be missed. That is, however, easier said than done. To the naked eyes at the ground level, statues of Vairava and musicians will not make much impact. The visitor may preferably be equipped with a   binocular or a telephoto lens.

Four musicians - in animated  postures of dance.

 What is chlorite stone ? According to, 'Chlorite is a name used for a group of sheet silicate minerals with similar properties. They are primarily found in weakly metamorphosed rock and form  the alteration of clay-rich sedimentary rocks and from alteration of pyroxenes, amphiboles and micas. They are also found in some sediments '. Regarding the chemical composition, we are told it has the following ' generalized formula: (Mg,Fe)3(Si,Al)4O10(OH)2.(Mg,Fe)3(OH)6 ' and we are further informed that ' Many solid solution possibilities exist with the ' chlorite' composition, each producing a specimen with slightly varying properties'. This stone has got its name from the Greek 'chloros' for green with reference to its colour. In 1798 AD, A.G.Werner has named this stone and others in its group 'chlorite'. ( Reference : .

Does anyone know what was the 'desi' name of this stone - what King Langula  Narasinghadeva and his artisans used to call this stone  when the raw material was ordered  and subsequently crafted intoexquisite  statues ? Perhaps there were several nomenclatures - both formal as well as  colloquial ! I have not so far been able to locate either.

Top - RH side of the door frame of Jagomohana. 
Bottom - Details of the LH end of the frame.

The above-referred internet site  mention chlorite has several spiritual uses too,e.g.,
'Chlorite is used to stimulate the state of inspiration and to further actualization/manifestation.
Said to heal the void after implant removal.
Use this crystal to promote a deep meditation.
Helps you emotionally and mentally accept your physical self.
Chlorite is used to cleanse the aura and Chakras.
Dissipates anger.'
 It is said to have power of physical healing too - but, that is beyond the scope of this blog. Anyone interested for more details may please refer to the link mentioned above .

Top - A view of the Jagomohana beyond the mid-day Surya. 
Bottom - Bust of Poosha, the morning Surya. 
Part of RH lotus survived  vandalism & erosion.
 NB - Statues of Surya are around 3.45m tall.

Several myths are , as expected for a temple built in such a  scale, around. The local guides propagate them, then visitors like us record them here and there - thus 'stories' keep circulating. In the next part, I shall recount one such story  connected with Surya's statue in the sanctum  and few more photos of chlorite exquisites in sunlight and flood-light.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Shyamal Babu, you have said In India, how many temples used this stone (Chlorite)?

If I have not mistaken the panel of 8 handed Durga in Vaital Deul is made of Chlorite stone. Also a few panels from the Anata Basudev Temple are made of Chlorite stone. I can remember a Varaha panel and two panels of Darpal.

Also the Simachalam Temple near Vizag contains an elaborate cholorite panel of Narasngha.

Thanks for sharing the geological info of the stone.